Pollees warm to foreign labor influx — and tighter controls

A majority of Japanese in a recent survey said more foreign workers should be allowed into the country, but at the same time want the government to tighten immigration controls, according to an institute affiliated with the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).

Keizai Koho Center, a public relations arm of Nippon Keidanren, said it polled 3,625 people nationwide via either the Internet or mail in late July.

The survey found 69 percent of the pollees support the government’s plan to accept more skilled labor from overseas, while 59 percent backed its position that the nation should be more cautious about an influx of unskilled labor.

The survey exposed a regional gap in willingness to accepting foreign labor.

While 73 percent of the respondents in the Kanto region said they support allowing more skilled foreign workers, the percentage dropped to 58 percent in the Hokuriku and Koshinetsu regions in central Japan.

On whether to accept more unskilled foreign workers to make up for the labor shortage amid the nation’s declining birthrate, about 70 percent of the respondents expressed support for relying on immigrants in the farm, construction and manufacturing sectors.

However, the level dropped to 56 percent for accepting unskilled foreign workers in the services sector.

On opening up to foreign workers in the nursing and welfare sectors, as demanded by Southeast Asian countries negotiating free-trade agreements with Japan, 59 percent expressed support for accepting these workers, while 34 percent said they are in opposition.

Whereas 71 percent of men supported accepting foreign labor in the nursing and welfare sectors, only 52 percent of the female respondents responded likewise.

On a multiple-choice question of what they want the government to do as the nation opens its doors to foreign workers, 86 percent of the respondents cited strict immigration controls to keep out illegal migrants.